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Radiation Oncology - WVU Cancer Institute

Radiation Oncology

About 70 percent of patients with cancer undergo radiation therapy as part of their treatment plan. After 10 years as a radiation oncologist, David “Andy” Clump, MD, PhD, knows how intimidating and scary the first appointment can be.

“Patients are nervous, they’re tense – they don’t know what to expect,” he said. “Many only recently learned they have cancer and now face this unknown treatment. But after spending time with our doctors and other team members, their anxiety level goes way down. They see familiar faces at each appointment and learn the routine. They trust us and quickly realize we’ll do everything possible to make them as comfortable and relaxed as possible while treating the cancer.”

The opportunity to develop trusting relationships with patients is something Dr. Clump loves most about his role at the WVU Cancer Institute’s Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center. He and his staff are passionate about their work and helping others – they pride themselves on getting to know each patient personally during the treatment course, which can last for weeks or months.

A Compassionate and Skilled Team of Radiation Oncologists

At our cancer center, you can trust that you’re in the hands of an experienced and compassionate team of radiation oncologists. Led by Dr. Clump, a native of West Virginia, our team consists of nine highly skilled specialists, each committed to providing the best possible care to our patients. Here’s a closer look at the individuals who make up our team.

  • David “Andy” Clump, MD, PhD, (Morgantown, WV): As a West Virginia native, Dr. Clump brings a deep understanding of the community and its unique healthcare needs. His expertise in radiation oncology ensures that you receive personalized and effective treatment.
  • Gabor Altdorfer, MD (Parkersburg, WV): Dr. Altdorfer’s commitment to patient care is unwavering. He brings his expertise to our team, serving the Parkersburg area with dedication and compassion.
  • Muhammad Fareed, MD (Fairmont, WV): Dr. Fareed’s extensive experience in radiation oncology is a valuable asset to our center. He ensures that patients in Fairmont receive the highest standard of care.
  • Tara Hansen, MD (South Charleston, WV): Dr. Hansen is valuable member of the team, bringing her expertise and compassionate care to patients in the southern part of West Virginia.
  • Phillip Pifer, MD, PhD (Morgantown): With both medical and research qualifications, Dr. Pifer’s contributions to the field are invaluable. He’s at the forefront of cutting-edge treatments right here in Morgantown.
  • Jondavid Pollock MD, PhD (Wheeling, WV): Dr. Pollock’s combined MD and PhD qualifications make him a true expert in the field. He serves the Wheeling community with passion and dedication.
  • Jeffrey Ryckman, MD (Parkersburg, WV): Dr. Ryckman’s commitment to excellence is evident in his patient-centered approach. He ensures that patients in Parkersburg receive the highest quality of care.
  • Mohammad Shaikh, MD (Bridgeport, WV): Dr. Shaikh brings his expertise to Bridgeport, offering patients the benefit of his extensive knowledge and compassionate care. Todd Tenenholz, MD, PhD (Morgantown, WV): Dr. Tenenholz’s qualifications set him apart as a leader in the field. He is dedicated to providing comprehensive care to patients in Morgantown.

When you visit our cancer center, you’ll have the opportunity to see your radiation oncology team at every treatment visit. This consistent and personalized care approach ensures you receive the attention and support you need during this challenging time. Your health and well-being are our top priorities.

Other members of the radiation oncology care team include:

  • Nurses who monitor patients during radiation treatment 
  • Medical physicists with extensive training in maintaining the highest safety and quality standards 
  • Medical dosimetrists who help develop the treatment plan 
  • Radiation therapists who deliver radiation therapy during each appointment 

Guiding Patients Through Radiation Treatment

Before treatment begins, patients meet with a radiation oncologist to discuss their treatment plan and ask questions about what to expect. Then, they return to the cancer center for a simulation. This appointment typically involves positioning your body on the treatment table, making marks on your skin, and taking images using computed tomography (CT) scans or other technologies. 

Your first radiation treatment takes place one to two weeks after the simulation. The cancer center offers many types of radiation therapy. Which one you have depends on the tumor type, size, and location; your age and overall health; and whether you need other types of cancer treatment.

“Once treatment begins, the goal is to complete it without interruption, which research shows leads to better outcomes,” Dr. Clump said. “Treatment can occur one to five times a week for many weeks.”

Side effects, such as skin changes, fatigue, poor appetite, and nausea, are common. The care team closely monitors patients and provides early treatment when problems like these arise.

Radiation Therapy for Patients Who Don’t Live Nearby

Dr. Clump and his team work with radiation oncologists throughout West Virginia and the region to ensure patients receive the care they need close to home.

“We will provide the initial consultation in Morgantown and then transition the patient’s radiation oncology care to providers in their community, when possible,” Dr. Clump said. “We share our treatment recommendations with the patient’s local care team and are available to meet with providers by phone or video conference as needed.”

Radiation oncologists at the cancer center are researching ways to reduce treatment times and develop more precise radiation delivery methods.

“About 68 percent of people in West Virginia live in towns with fewer than 1,500 people, and many of those towns are two to three hours from a radiation therapy center,” Dr. Clump said. “It’s a huge burden for patients in remote areas to travel for their radiation therapy, especially since many receive care up to five times a week. We are exploring ways to give larger radiation doses so they can receive less frequent treatments.”

Such methods have already reduced the treatment time for some breast cancers from six-and-a-half weeks to less than one week with the same effectiveness.

Improving Patients’ Lives

Dr. Clump and his radiation oncology colleagues are driven by a desire to serve patients well.

“From the day we meet patients, through their treatment and survivorship, we are focused on their needs,” he said. “Whether that’s helping them understand their diagnosis, managing side effects, or using new techniques to treat their cancer, we dedicate our time, technology, and passion to help make their lives better.”

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